Latvia to completely destroy monument to Soviet soldiers — Analysis

The memorial dedicated to the liberation from Nazi Germany forces in Latvia’s capital was deemed not worthy to preserve

On Wednesday, Martins Stakis, the Mayor of Riga announced that the Soviet World War II memorial in Latvia’s capital will be demolished and parts of it recycled.

“The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia has not recognized any part of the monument as artistically valuable,”Stakis stated this in an interview on the LTV Network. “Therefore, once it is dismantled, it will be sent for recycling.”

According to the official, the actual dismantling of the monument – to be done gradually, piece by piece – accounts for no more than 10% of the project’s total cost. Rest of the cost is for construction of a park that will replace the memorial.

Officially known as the ‘Monument to the Liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from the German Fascist Invaders,’ the memorial, located in Riga’s Victory Park, was the subject of a vote by the city council in May, which elected that it be dismantled. It includes a nearly 80-meter tall obelisk, as well as several large bronze statues.

NATO could be asked to blow up Soviet memorial – mayor

The council’s financial committee will meet on Thursday to discuss funding options for the project, Mayor Stakis said. The official informed journalists in July that the project’s total cost had been estimated at two to three million Euro.

In May Riga’s vice-mayor Vilnis Kirsis said the city council was considering blowing the monument up, with some assistance from NATO. 

As a result, it was decried in Latvia by many. “symbol of Soviet re-occupation,” the memorial – along with other Soviet-era monuments – has long been targeted by the country’s nationalists. After Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, in February, the campaign to remove it grew.

This memorial was also the focal point of an controversy that erupted on May 9, as former Soviet republics commemorate Victory Day. Latvia’s authorities declared the date a day of mourning for those killed or injured in Ukraine and banned any public gatherings at the site. People came from all walks of life to put flowers on the monument, defying the ban. Many people returned the following day with more flowers.

EU may ban Soviet Monuments

A few days later, the Latvian parliament unanimously voted to unilaterally abandon the section of a treaty signed with Russia that included a pledge to safeguard Soviet war memorials throughout the country.

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